Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Europeans Try Out Mars 'Pregnancy Test'

This is no joke. Go read it and see.
clipped from
A new experiment similar to a pregnancy test but designed to search for signs of life on Mars is now exposed to the vacuum of space above Earth.

The European Space Agency's (ESA) postage-stamp-sized experiment, called the "Life Marker Chip" (LMC), was launched last week aboard a Russian rocket launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan.

Strapped to the ESA's large Foton-M3 capsule, the tiny experiment harbors more than 2,000 life-detecting samples that glow if they encounter life-critical compounds, such as proteins or DNA.

Scientists and engineers hope the life-sensing chip can remain viable in the harsh radiation, temperatures and vacuum of space during a trip to Mars.

"This will be the first time that these types of materials will have flown unprotected in space in a manner similar to a flight to Mars," said Andrew Steele, a molecular biologist at the Carnegie Institution in Washington, D.C.

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